Next Steps: After Occupational Therapy Graduate Program
For most OT graduates, their first job after earning a degree plays an essential role in positioning them for the future, opening doors to new opportunities that can lead to long and satisfying careers. Yet all that good stuff doesn't happen by accident, and getting your degree is just the first (albeit very important) step in your career as an occupational therapist. Once you've passed that hurdle, the next step is identifying what type of job you want, as well as determining what opportunities are available. While that process may seem daunting, a little planning is all it takes to start your career on the right path.
First, the Resume
Although the degrees can be vastly different, there's one challenge that remains the same for every graduate: writing an effective resume. Lots of grads find the occupational therapy resume writing process daunting — so daunting, they may turn to a template to churn out that first batch. Considering templates are available to anyone with an Internet connection, these one-size-fits-all options will do little to make you stand out. Instead, invest some time looking at samples online, and then tailor your resume to suit the specific job for which you're applying. Give some thought to the position description and requirements, and make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your experience in those areas; in terms of classwork and any research, internship and externship experiences you've had.
The Occupational Therapy Job Search
Your occupational therapy job search will be much more successful if you take some time to consider your goals and expectations. Understanding the type of job you're looking for before starting your search is an important part of OT career goal setting. Are you interested in working for a hospital? A facility dedicated to OT? A private practice? Each setting offers a very different environment, and carefully considering the pros and cons of each — including the time you'll spend interacting with patients and colleagues, the guidance you'll receive from experienced OT practitioners, the resources available and more — should be carefully weighed.
Find a Mentor
Many OT grads look for opportunities to receive ongoing and active mentorship from one or more experienced colleagues to help them settle in initially as well as gain greater insight into the OT field. A skilled mentor acts as a kind of post-graduation professor, and some programs offer mentorship programs specifically to help new graduates become more seasoned professionals.
In any medical field, having access to continuing educational opportunities is important for ensuring you stay abreast of current developments and grow your skill set so you can become a better practitioner. Finding an employer with resources to support your continuing education activities, including a resource library and, ideally, an allowance to help cover the costs of obtaining those CEUs is also important — not just for your immediate professional satisfaction, but also to help you develop the skills and experience you'll need for future job opportunities.
Chance to Grow
As exciting as your new position may be, eventually you'll probably want to explore other opportunities and take on new responsibilities. Working with an employer or agency that offers the chance to advance within the organization or to pursue new specialty areas or even other geographical locations can help keep your career perspective fresh and engaging. Some opportunities may have programs in place to enable therapists to move into management positions; if that sounds appealing, look for candidates that offer management tracks after a certain period of employment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts rapid growth in the OT field through the next decade, which means there are plenty of available OT job opportunities. To make sure you have access to the jobs most likely to suit your needs, look for — and attend — job fairs through your school and join a professional association so you have access to their job listings. Be sure to check out Invo-Progressus' Career LaunchTM program, designed to provide the guidance and support new graduates need to get their career off to a successful start. We offer listings of job opportunities from across the country, with plenty of resources to help you grow along the way. To find out more about Invo-Progressus career opportunities, browse our website or call 800-239-7979 today!